Friday, June 22, 2007

On Fathers, Among Other Things

Last week I finished of a pretty active week-and-a-half of poetry by MC'ing a gathering in Haddonfield hosted by Ilise Feitshans, who does these events out of her home about 2-3 times a year and calls them "Poetry by Candlelight". We had refreshments on her backyard patio, and then I read for about twenty minutes and was well-received. We had an open reading, too, with some other local poets, including my friend Sheila McDonald, and some of the kids who came along read their favorite children's poems from Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, et al. It was a beautiful night weather-wise and poetry-wise, and although we only had maybe 15 people, including kids, it was quite enjoyable. And I sold a couple of books!

I've been submitting like a nut lately - sent off four poems to Poetry (well, why not), U.S. 1 Worksheets, Edison Literary Review, and Mad Poets Review (the rest of whom have all published me before, which gives me pretty good odds). I also entered the Shadow Poetry Biannual Chapbook Contest with a manuscript entitled Octaves - all the poems contained therein have exactly eight lines, but thematically and form-wise, they're all over the place. My son Jeremy once again did a fine job designing the cover. The prize is $100, 50 copies of the book, and 25% royalties on any book sold on Shadow Poetry's website. Fingers crossed!

Summer vacation is here, and Ryan, my youngest, couldn't be happier. He graduated from fifth grade on Wednesday - it was a wonderful ceremony, featuring performances by the band and chorus (both of which he is a member). And he was very proud to get straight A's for the year!
Next week he starts four weeks of theater camp, then two weeks of Boy Scout sleepaway camp. He's got a full dance card this summer.

Father's Day was low-key but good - I stained the deck and got the grill primed up for my first barbecuing of the season (burgers, of course). I got a couple of nice shirts and a Netflix subscription. Already saw my first movie from Netflix this week: The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith - rather appropriate movie coming off of Father's Day. Will Smith's young son Jaden, who plays his son in the movie, was excellent.

Music: Got the box set Forecast: Tomorrow by Weather Report, a four-disc CD/DVD career retrospective. In case you don't know, Weather Report was the premier jazz-rock fusion band in the 1970's and into the 80's. They had a hit with "Birdland" in 1977, I believe. Their only serious competition was John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra and Chick Corea's Return to Forever. Interestingly, the founding members of all of these groups (Weather Report was founded by Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul) worked at one time or other - some of them together - with Miles Davis, particularly on the In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew sessions. Anyway, the Weather Report box set is excellent. I haven't seen the DVD yet, which is supposed to be the video of a killer concert they did in 1978.

I'll leave you tonight with a poem I wrote about five years ago, when I just got my barbecue grill. (I'd dropped some heavy hints for a new one for Father's Day, but to no avail. Maybe next year....) So here it is:


What is this primordial urge
that lures us men outside,
we, who chafe in the kitchen,

only to sear meat alfresco,
taking pride in parallel lines
black-grilled on our product?

Some archetypal memory
grabs us – the time we used
this new technology, fire,

for light and heat, and suddenly,
accidentally, they say, for cooking,
the fresh kill for the family
skewered on a stick in a flame.

No matter that this modern bounty
wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam
came home in a paper bag.

It’s the offering up that satisfies,
the sacrifice of sustenance
over hot coals,

the charcoal smoke to the heavens,
the ancestors smiling down
on my grill, my gift from the family
for Father’s Day.

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